Youth misspent at the YMCA #AtoZChallenge

Chicago from A to ZAs in years past, this month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. 2016 marks my fifth anniversary, so to celebrate, I’m hosting Friday Blog-Ins here in San Diego; you can find out more info about where we’re meeting each week on my A to Z Challenge page.

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Although I’m not currently a member of the YMCA, I have to admit that this organization was a pretty big part of my life, growing up.

The Y, as members tend to refer to it, was a place that taught me lots of things:

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  • Ballet;
  • Ice skating;
  • How to swim;
  • That locker rooms are to be changed in swiftly, particularly if you’re not interested in seeing random strangers naked and doing some very bizarre things without their clothes on!


You know, the facts of life.

I remember joining a YMCA group with my BFF, Jenna, called the “Trailblazers,” which was supposed to encourage father/son and father/daughter relationships by sponsoring various outings. (Technically, I believe this group was actually called the “Indian Trailblazers,” which is not only culturally insensitive, but also made no sense because there was nothing remotely “Indian” – nor Native American – about the group. I don’t even recall any trails being blazed by this group… But I digress.)

We went camping together many times over the years, which has probably inspired my lifelong hatred of camping – as well as my more current rage against the concept of “glamping” (that’s “glamorous camping,” in case you have not yet stumbled across this true-life horror). Sure, we were “roughing” it in the woods, but usually slept in a pop-up camper or, later, in Jenna’s family’s motorhome. I guess you could say we bonded over franks ‘n’ beans, weird dad stories, and getting thrown/pushed/dunked into various lakes by the boys in the group.

Shout-out to Jason and Jeremy B., the main offenders. Next time I see you mofos, I’m dunking you both in a lake. Preferably when it’s -30 out.

Anyway, what was my point here?

Oh yeah: bonding with your dad.


See, lately I’ve been seeing a lot of parents pointing out the obvious, with t-shirts and memes like: “Dads don’t babysit; it’s called parenting.” And while I would have to agree, I find it interesting that the YMCA would have set up a group like the Trailblazers to begin with – precisely because it suggests that dads don’t usually have relationships with their kids. And that’s pretty sad.

I mean, granted, most of the time Jenna and I were on these father/daughter outings, we were trying to scheme ways to get away from our dads (and my sister, for that matter), but that’s mostly because who wants to be stuck in a pop-up trailer with nothing for entertainment all weekend long but Trivial Pursuit and a deck of cards while it rains hard enough to create mudslides outside?

Seriously, why does it always rain when you try to go camping?!

Anyway, I always kinda felt like my dad was secretly the coolest one on these camp-outs. Jenna’s dad was fun, if slightly crazy, always trying to harass charm waitresses with his Australian accent; Jason and Jeremy’s dad was a sarcastic mofo, who was usually involved in a war of words with his kids (who were also perpetually fetching him beer); and T’s dad was, well, an asshole. But my dad actually had skills and smarts that could help us when there was a flat tire, we needed to start a fire, or it was pouring rain out and we needed to set up camp fast before we all got drenched, caught pneumonia and died.

If anyone there could lay claim to some sort of educational aim for the program, it was my dad.

He also managed to talk Jenna’s dad out of doing some truly crazy stuff, like moving their entire family into an airplane hangar in the middle of nowhere while he attempted to build his own house on a parcel of land bordered by an expressway, a landfill, and a nuclear waste facility.

Ah, youth!

To make a long story short (too late!), if not for the YMCA’s influence on my life, I might not have hung out with my dad quite as much as I did. And that would’ve been a bummer, because my dad is pretty damn cool.

Is it really fun to stay at the YMCA?

You tell me!

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One Comment

  • Shelly

    My mom sent me to the YMCA when I was a kid to learn how to swim. I don’t remember learning how to swim but I do remember a dance competition they had and the winner would win a LP single of the Bee Gee’s Staying Alive. Good grief I wanted to win that record. Lol, but I couldn’t dance to save my life and even my 2nd grader self knew that.

    I love Toby Keith but his song his hit song, “I’m so happy I can’t stop crying” while I love the song, part of the lyrics bug me, “Seven weeks have passed now since she left me, She shows her face to ask me how I am. She says the kids are fine and that they miss me. Maybe I could come and baby-sit sometime”

    Dads don’t babysit, they are dads!

    Great post!